American Resources Policy Network
Promoting the development of American mineral resources.
  • The Surge of EV Technology and Implications for Mineral Resource Supply and Demand

    You may have caught Elon Musk’s exchange with Daimler on Twitter over investment in EV technology earlier this week. Vacuum giant Dyson has also tossed its hat into the ring announcing that it will spend $2.7 billion to develop an electric car.

    The headlines are piling up, and it’s no longer a secret that demand for electric vehicle technology is surging. Undoubtedly, EV technology has transformative effects on commodities – but what exactly are we looking at?

    Visual Capitalist, which often features fascinating infographics, has attempted to capture “the massive impact on EVs on commodities in one chart.” One should note that the chart is based on a thought experiment – a potential scenario in which 100% of global auto demand came form Chevy Bolts – which at this point sounds far-fetched. However, with Visual Capitalist cites a recent projection put EVs at a 16% penetration by 2030 and then 51% by 2040, it’s a potential scenario worth considering. 

    Take a look at a large version of the infographic and the corresponding article here

    The outlined implications of a flip of global demand to the outlined 100% demand scenario are staggering:

    Source: http://www.visualcapitalist.com/massive-impact-evs-commodities/

    If you are interested in more background information on EV battery technology, and supply and demand scenarios, our friends at Benchmark Mineral Intelligence are putting on yet another great event in October, entitled “Cathodes 2017 – the battery market’s only dedicated cathode conference, from raw material to end market.”
    Hosted from October 8-10 in California’s Newport Beach, the event brings together experts and stakeholders for “3 days of presentations, workshops and networking events all dedicated to examining the present and future of the cathode industry.”

    Check it out – it will be worth your time. 

  • Why Cobalt Should be High on Your Radar

    In a recent article, the Financial Times zeroes in on one of the metals followers of ARPN will know is becoming increasingly indispensable to 21st Century clean energy technology: Cobalt. 

    Once an obscure metal you rarely heard about, this co-product of Nickel and Copper is increasingly afforded “critical mineral status” – primarily because of its application in Lithium-ion battery technology.

    The Financial Times calls out electric carmaker Tesla for only once mentioning the word “cobalt” in a 111-page draft prospectus for a proposed $1.5bn senior note offering:

    “This cursory mention of the electric carmaker’s dependence on the metal must have passed a formulaic test of what securities laws require. It may not, however, pass a laugh test among those familiar with the Democratic Republic of Congo, which accounts for more than 60 per cent of world cobalt production and is the principal prospective source of new supply. Tesla has always been a company of the future funded by investors’ equity. The problem with a debt issue (the $1.5bn note matures in 2025), is that there is a more certain date with material reality.

    It has become more apparent that cobalt supply could be the choke point for the mass production of electric vehicles that are capable of replacing the standard car or light truck.”

     The Financial Times piece correctly argues that the most significant barrier to EV mass production is not so much price – even though prices have indeed soared – it is the availability of supply. As we have previously pointed out

    “On a global scale, 93 percent of the Cobalt refined in China – the world’s biggest Cobalt consumer – originates in the DRC, which, at 3,400,000 metric tons, is also home to the world’s largest Cobalt reserve.
    Roughly 62 percent of global refined Cobalt is sourced in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), where production conditions involving involve child labor and poor environmental standards in some instances, have invited sharp criticism, but have prompted tech companies to re-evaluate their sourcing strategies.”

    And while optimists point to new Cobalt development projects around the world and argue that “lithium-ion batteries’ cobalt requirements can be engineered down,” there is no near-term silver bullet. Substitution will require significant amounts of time, testing and investment, and the DRC will remain a crucial factor. 

     Caspar Rawles, analyst for Benchmark Mineral Intelligence, recently put it bluntly: 

    “While there are a number of new cobalt projects being developed around the world, quite simply: there will be no electric vehicle industry without DRC cobalt.” 

    Domestic projects coming online are welcome developments to alleviate certain pressures and concerns, and should be part of a comprehensive overall mineral resource strategy for the United States but they can only be a starting point. Cobalt needs to be high on everyone’s radar, not a footnote in dusty financial documents. 

  • Cobalt Demand on the Rise – But What About Supply?

    Once an obscure metal most people had rarely heard about, Cobalt, a co-product of Nickel and Copper, is becoming a hot commodity and is increasingly afforded “critical mineral” status. The main reason for this development is Cobalt’s application in Lithium-ion battery technology. Soaring demand for rechargeable batteries and the growing popularity of electric cars have sent the [...]
  • EVENT: Experts to Discuss Critical Mineral Supply Chains and Energy Storage Revolution

    Our friends at Benchmark Minerals are back in town and they’ve done it again: The team led by Benchmark Minerals Managing Director and ARPN expert panel member Simon Moores has once more put together a great lineup for a half-day event in Washington, DC this Wednesday. Speakers like David Abraham, Director of the Technology, Rare [...]
  • Cobalt – First Steps Towards Reducing Mineral Resource Dependencies?

    A recent piece for InvestorIntel zeroes in on a metal which, due to its growing use in battery technology, coupled with a challenging supply scenario is increasingly afforded “critical mineral” status – Cobalt. A co-product of Nickel and Copper, the metal’s recent history, as author Lara Smith argues, has been “chaotic.” ARPN agrees that about sums it up. Criticism regarding the [...]
  • Through the Gateway: Nickel – Powering Modern Technology

    Over the course of the last few weeks, we reviewed Nickel and its co-products Cobalt, Palladium, Rhodium and Scandium as part of our trip “Through the Gateway.” We’ve established that the importance of each of the co-products is growing as the revolution in materials science advances. Meanwhile, our import dependence for each of the co-products is [...]
  • Through the Gateway: Cobalt – A Critical Mineral Under Scrutiny

    A lustrous, silvery blue, hard ferromagnetic, brittle element, Cobalt’s physical properties are similar to Iron and Nickel. It forms various compounds, stable in air and unaffected by water.  Main uses include many alloys, including superalloys used in aircraft engine parts and high-speed steels, as well as magnets, and catalysts, to name but a few. It’s [...]